Thursday, April 1, 2010

Is Exercise Really That Important?

March/April 2010 – Exercise: The Dangers of Inactivity!

I am not a huge advocate of using fear for motivation but sometimes it is necessary.  I recently came across some shocking statistics that I felt I needed to share with you all.  These statistics compare the dangers of smoking with inactivity.  Inactivity is an invisible enemy that, at one time or another, seems to sneak up on most people.  Therefore, the purpose of this article is to expose the dangers of inactivity and demonstrate the importance of exercise.   

Some Interesting Statistics

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, 2000-01, 22% of Canadians adults, 15 years of age and older, smoke daily, whereas current estimates of physical inactivity from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) are more than double that of tobacco use.”

Current statistics from CCHS show 52% of Canadian Adults (20+) are inactive.  Over half the adults in Canada are not exercising which leads one to think that the importance of exercise is not taken seriously.     

“Recent research in the United States reveal that although smoking remains the leading cause of mortality in America (435 000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (400 000 deaths; 16.6%) may soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of death in that country (Mokdad, A.H., Marks, J.S., Stroup, D.F., & Gerberding, J.L. (2004). Special Communication: Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000. JAMA; 291:1238-1245). (Sent to translation) “

Wow!  Poor diet and physical inactivity are one of the leading causes of death and yet, so many people continue to live with these dangerous habits.     

“In a 1996 paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 276, No. 3, p. 205-210), Steven Blair et al. calculated the "relative risks of mortality from all causes" for a number of conditions. They found that the 20% least fit people had a relative risk of 2.10, close to the 1.99 for current or recent smokers. This means that the 20% least fit people were twice as likely as fit people to die prematurely from all causes. Likewise, current or recent smokers were twice as likely as non smokers to die prematurely from all causes. This study does NOT evaluate the "magnitude" of the health risks of smoking against the health risks of physical inactivity. In fact, no study has yet investigated the magnitude of the health hazards of smoking vs. inactivity. What we do know is that 56% of Canadians are not active enough for targeted public health benefits, roughly 22% smoke, and both behaviours are harmful.”

Inactivity doubles your chances of premature death from all causes!  If this does not open your eyes to the dangers of inactivity, nothing will.   

What Is Inactivity?

Here are the standards they used to determine whether or not a person was active:

“Please note a classification of active represents an average daily energy expenditure of at least 3 kilocalories per kilogram (KKD) of body weight during the previous 12 months. Moderately active represents average energy-expenditure values that are greater than 1.5 and less than 3.0 KKD. Inactive corresponds to average energy-expenditure values of less than or equal to 1.5. For the purposes of goal reporting, physical activity combines moderately and active categories (1.5 KKD or greater).
Active, if they walked at least 1 hour every day (3.0+ KKD);
Moderately active, if they walked 1/2 hour every day  (1.5–2.9 KKD); and,
Inactive, if they walked no more than 1/2 hour every day  (<1.5 KKD).”

According to this study, if you walk 1 hour a day, you would be considered active or fit.  In my opinion, this study is very lenient to say the least and nonetheless, over 50% of Canadians still fail to even walk ½ hour or expend more than 1.5 KKD per day.  This is extremely troubling and outright sad.  To put this in perspective, I can make a person expend more than 1.5 KKD during a single set of squats!  

Infancy Stage

Because the most technological advances have occurred in the last 100 years, inactivity is still in its infancy stage.  The more advanced technology becomes the more choices of comfort we will have to make.  However, what is the price for too much comfort?  I believe the statistics presented above are a good indication of this price.  If we do not recognize this problem today, it will stealthily become more and more prevalent in our lives.  In truth, this is already starting to happen.  For instance, escalators were originally designed for the handicap and now everyone is using them instead of the stairs.  As you can see, many of our decisions are based on being active versus being inactive.  Which choices are you making?  Are you an addict of comfort and inactiveness?  

Recognizing Inactivity

The first step to ridding a dangerous habit is to recognize and admit that you have a problem.  Unfortunately, inactivity is not commonly recognized in today’s society as a dangerous problem.  For instance, have you ever heard anyone say that they were addicted to inactivity?  Most likely not and here lies the greatest challenge of this addiction.  My belief is that inactivity should be ranked amongst the most severe of problems such as alcoholism, eating disorders, and drug abuse.  Until this happens, inactivity will continue to quietly affect many people.     

Help Expose Inactiveness

If someone you really cared about (mother, father, spouse, child, sibling, friend, etc.) started abusing alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes, etc., would you not do everything you possibly could to stop them from continuing this dangerous behaviour?  Of course you would!  It should be no different with inactivity.  If you or a loved one suffer from the habit of inactivity, please get help.  With the right help, you can rid this habit permanently.  Your health and longevity depend on it!    


By Sal Crispo
Vaughan Personal Trainer

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